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Braden Gellenthien Bio
“The first time I touched a bow, I realized that I really enjoyed shooting,” says Braden Gellenthien. “I enjoyed learning to become more accurate and striving to reach the goal of perfection.”
Four years later, a young Braden was ready to quit. “When I was 14, I developed target panic and could barely keep a bow at full draw.
Braden decided to give the sport a rest for a couple of months.
“I missed shooting. I made the decision that if I was going to begin shooting again, I would do it properly and with the motivation and drive to succeed.”
Braden quickly returned to archery with new focus and the advice of a strong mentor.
“Terry Wunderle is by far the most influential person in my archery career. He helped me climb out of the grasps of target panic and helped me develop the form that I still use today. Without his help, I wouldn’t have achieved any of the success that I have today.”
By the age of 15, Braden was shooting competitively in tournaments.
“Terry helped me create my mental program which has helped me stay calm in most every situation.”
Braden turned pro as he entered the Junior/Young Adult division.
“At this age I was beginning to shoot scores that would compete with the top pros. After placing 3rd at the FITA World Championships in New York, I knew that my decision to go pro was not a mistake.”
As a full-time archer, Braden now lays claim to nearly a dozen first-place victories. His shooting form, once crippled by target panic, is now described by some as “effortless.”
“Indoors, I love inner-ten ring scoring tournaments like the Lancaster Archery Classic and all other FITA match play tournaments. Outdoors, I really enjoy head to head matches. There are so many factors, including wind and tournament pressure, that really provide emotion for the tournament.”
Confidence amidst failure
“The successes that I’ve achieved in archery have given me a lot of confidence in other aspects of my life,” says Braden. “Ultimately, these successes have allowed me to make professional archery my full-time career.”
But full-time archers don’t win all the time.
“Archery has taught me how to deal with failure. I’ve had my fair share of near-wins and heartbreak and, from this, I’ve learned to create plans and train harder for the next opportunity to excel. I believe this is an important life lesson as it can be applied to any type of challenge.”
Winning the mental game
The mental game remains one of Braden’s toughest opponents.
“I approach my shot as I believe an NBA player would approach a free throw. Each shot is a chance for perfection and for that one moment, nothing exists except me and the target. After setting my feet, I try to recreate my perfect shot every step of the way, beginning with removing my arrow from my quiver. Physically, I focus on recreating the same situation as best I can. Mentally, I subconsciously aim while talking my way through the execution of my release.”
When Braden is on top of his mental game, his shots are smooth and consistent.
“The most important factor in consistency is preparation. It is extremely important to physically be in your top shooting shape so that fatigue is never an issue. After the physical aspects are taken care of, a person’s mental approach needs to be addressed. This is where all those hours of practice come in to play. Practicing perfection in your shooting form allows a shooter to ‘retreat’ back into that moment and focus to perform their perfect shot under any circumstance.”
Braden also cross trains by running and performing exercises that strengthen his core.
“I like to run several half mile sprints throughout the day. This way, I increase my ‘short-burst’ stamina and then focus on slowing my heart rate as quickly as possible. I think this most closely simulates a tournament situation where my heart rate will spike due to pressure and I need to find a way to relax quickly so that my aiming abilities will return to normal.”
When his mental game and physical preparedness show up together at the range, Braden is able to enjoy himself while performing at his best.
“My most memorable archery moment was ‘the’ shoot-off that I had with Jesse Broadwater at the NFAA Indoor Nationals. We were both in the zone that everyone trains to achieve and neither shooter was giving an inch. It was one of the very few moments where I’ve felt the pressure to win a tournament completely dissipate and actually become fun.”
In addition to his own success, Braden enjoys helping others to become the best that they can be.
“The most important piece of advice that I could give to an up-and-coming shooter would be to focus on the quality of your practice. It’s never worthwhile to go to the practice range and just shoot arrows to ‘get practice over with.’ It’s always important to have a goal for each practice session and strive to accomplish it. The moment that practice becomes a chore or uninteresting is the moment that the potential to pick up bad habits begins.”
Getting the equipment right
The bow is the archer’s most important tool and one that requires careful selection and setup.
“Smooth, easy aiming is the biggest thing that I look for in a bow. A smooth draw cycle is a close second as I like to be able to keep the bow back firmly at full draw without feeling like I’m ripping the cams off the bow.
“Tweaking and tuning are things that never stop during the season. No matter how good a setup is working, there is always room for improvement. I’m always slightly tweaking my rest positioning to try and find some new, more forgiving alignment.”
Braden uses Archer’s Advantage to select the proper shaft spine and length for his bow.
“After that, I cut a few different length arrows, insert different weighted points in a few of each, and begin shooting. I begin with a paper tune and get as close to a bullet hole as possible. Then I go to the distance I will be competing at and make subtle rest adjustments in order to group tune. At the end of the day, I’d rather have an arrow that flies terrible but groups than one that flies like a dart but lands wherever it pleases. Luckily, when tuning is done right, you get both.”
Braden also spends a good bit of time experimenting with his stabilizer setup.
“Stabilizers have become so adjustable with today’s technologies that they can make any bow aim well. Just like I’m always tweaking on my rest or draw weight in order to improve my groupings, I’m always tinkering with stabilizer angles and weighting differences in order to improve my aim.”
For Braden, the right scope setup means, “What you see is what you get.”
“I love high magnification and a small dot. There’s no more comfortable feeling for me when I’m shooting than to know that my pin is buried in the middle and that I am then able to execute a clean shot.”
Braden often switches back and forth between a back tension and a trigger release.
“Outdoors I prefer to shoot a trigger, but you’ll see me from time to time with my hook in case I have a target panic flare-up. Outdoors, I love having the control of knowing when the release ‘won’t go off’ and feel this is very important when shooting in heavy wind. To set off my trigger, I focus on increasing pressure on the button until the shot breaks.
“Indoors, I prefer to just allow my subconscious to aim while focusing all my conscious ability on a smooth, rhythmic shot execution. I like to think of my back tension release as a machine in my hand. My index finger acts as a pivot point for the release, and as my pull increases, the release begins to roll in my hand until it fires.
Goals for the coming year
“My goals for this year include winning a stage of the NFAA circuit, making the US World Team for the World Championships, and qualifying for the World Cup Final.”
- Braden Gellenthien Photos